The perfect combination of speed and strength, another new pairing for the Men’s takes shape

By Katie Garner

Stuart E (left) and Luke: Anyone else think that the nickname ‘Little and Large’ should catch on pretty pronto?!?

When thinking about what pairs to put together in this year’s Men’s Doubles team, I knew that I wanted both Luke and Stuart E to have a starring role. They are both regulars at club night, and absolutely bursting at their sweaty seams with various strengths and shots that consistently deliver the points, although I’m positive that they will undoubtedly get nicknamed ‘Little and Large’!

Pint sized powerhouse and regular bundle of fun Stuart is always great to have on your side, mainly due to his penchant for a massive smashing session, that leaves the air besides you wobbling and your hair on end, as the shuttle barely misses you before skidding down by your feet. He covers the back of the court like a pro and uses his big shots to save the day no matter the situation. However, my favourite thing about the Stu man is not really skill related – he can sing the score line to Blue’s One Love like no one else can, and every time it cracks me up. Seriously, it’s still not getting old. Brilliant. Stuart is also a great team player, and is our main male reserve for the Mixed Team, once again demonstrating his diversity and dedication.

Luke is relatively new to the club and has probably been with us a year or two. Looking at when he first joined, to now, you wouldn’t recognise the player he has grown into – it’s a fabulous transformation that has seen his shots develop from good into true awesomeness, even gaining him the nickname ‘Skywalker’, with the obvious Jedi reference. An absolutely fabulous mover, no one reaches the furthest corners of the court better and no shot is safe, with Luke sniffing at the net, eagerly waiting to pounce on any vague sign of weakness. He seems to surround every shot and is so incredibly fast. He is also an asset at the front of the court, with great net play and a stunning smash if it floats a little high. He is also the most determined player I have ever seen, never giving up on a shot until the shuttle has plonked plum on the ground. He has improved so much since he first joined that he has really earned his place on the team and it is a delight to have him enhancing our new Men’s Team this year.

Why I put these two together is because I believe that they will complement each other beautifully.  Stuart is a solid foundation at the back of the court, with his high-flying clears, rocketing smashes and disguised drops. Covering the middle and front, Luke will undoubtedly zoom as if on skates leaving no gaps for the opponents. His height at the front may also serve as an intimidation or deterrent and that is also not a bad thing, and would only provide Stuart with more opportunity to fire down his ammunition of smashes.  Both are brilliant all round players and have been practising together pre-season kick off, so I’m hoping that this terrific twosome will deliver with their fantastic array of skills.

Luke’s best shot: This one is a toughie, but I’m going to say his net shots. His smashes are awesome, but net shots take a different kind of strength and he plays them perfectly.

Stuart’s best shot: This one is easy, his smash. He takes on everything and is eager to produce the winner – which is easily achievable with this great shot.